Thursday, October 20, 2005

Big News: The Newest Gig

As some of you may know, I have three major interests that I have passionately pursued over the years.
  • Games Development
  • Tool Design
  • Illustration
Over the past seven years, I’ve been honored to work with a stunningly talented crew of folks over at Anark. In that time, we’ve released six (!) versions of Anark Studio, a truly classy tool for authoring 3D application. It is my baby.

The latest Anark Gameface keeps gaining major new customers at an impressive rate. We just announced Silicon Knights, makers of Too Human are using it with their new Unreal-based Xbox 360 title and there should be some even bigger announcements coming out shortly. A little bit of me is going to be in dozens of games that hit the shelves next year. That is pretty darn cool.

Change, baby
But time comes for a man to move on in his life. Aya and I have been talking about moving out to the Northwest for some time and I’ve been doing more marketing than product design lately.

Shortly after returning from our trip to Japan, I got an unexpected phone call from a gentleman up in Redmond, Washington. One thing led to another and I now have a shiny new job at Microsoft helping design the recently announced Acrylic graphic design tool.

Designing Art Tools
A little history is perhaps in order. I’ve been designing drawing tools since I was 17 when I first got my hands on Deluxe Paint and was convinced that there was a better way. I’ve been drawing professionally ever since I landed my first game job in college. My notebooks are filled with scribbles on how to improve Painter, Illustrator and Photoshop.

But the chance to do serious product design on a new illustration tool happens about once every dozen years or so in this industry. To have such an opportunity fall into my lap is exciting to say the least.

With Anark, I had a chance to combine both Game Development and Tool Design and it was a great experience. Now I get to combine my passions for Tool Design with Illustration. At the moment Microsoft is not known for their beautiful art tools. That will change. I may end up boiling the ocean, but I’m going there to make an amazingly useful, crazy sexy design tool that inspires lust in artists across the world.

Games, Tool Design and Illustration
I will, however, still be writing essays on game design essays. This site isn’t going anywhere and may even grow in the future. Each passion is like the leg of a stool. I realized long ago that I need all three to be happy.

So…does anyone know any good board gaming groups in the Seattle area?

Take care

PS: ‘Oi’ to all the Anarkists who might be reading this. After so many years of listening to me sing random 80’s tunes, you may actually enjoy our new long distance relationship. ;-)


  1. Great stuff! Now that you'll be up here, I'll buy you a beer some time as thanks for all the great blog posts. (Ulterior motive: I have some neat ideas for Acrylic)

  2. Congratulations on the new job. I now have an excellent excuse for not learning the photoshop shortcuts *grins*

    Colm Mac

  3. Congratulations. It sounds like a really unique and fun opportunity.

    Whatever happens please don't stop posting. Your blog is one of the most insightful game design blogs online.

  4. Congratulations. And don't you dare stop posting.


  5. Congratulations on your exciting new job.

    I've only just discovered this site, I'm glad to hear it's not going away :)

  6. If you happen to find a decent board-gaming group in Seattle, let me know - I've been looking for one, too. :)

  7. Am part of a rather relaxed gaming group that meets sort of near Seattle in a tiny wee town called Enumclaw, which is some 40 or so miles from Seattle, or 50'ish miles from various parts of Redmond. (As I well know since I drive to the Millenium campus daily..)

    And when I mean relaxed, I mean 'some folks show up around noon, and we sort of start cooking some food, have dinner between 5-7pm, and game till 11-12 or so. Generally. Or we play card or board games, depending on what folks are in the mood for. Or we schedule a weekend of just board or card games, or.. Well, we are relaxed. I suppose I could also see about starting up, or joining in with other folks for a Friday night event if there are enough of us.

    If interested, drop me a note: rob.lowry (at) gmail . com

  8. This is such a great and exciting opportunity DanC, and Sondra's already got a hundred questions for Aya. I've got a thousand thoughts on this change... (besides the obvious one that you're just following me about the country... :) )

    You and I will have to tour Wizards of the Coast Corporate HQ, which is just down the block from where I live. I keep meaning to take your board game down to them and try testplaying it with them.

    BTW, Rob, I'm your neighbor... I live in Maple Valley...

    Danc, When are you making the physical move? Will you be out here for Thanksgiving, cuz Sondra's still as great a cook as ever... ;)

    Speaking of art design tools... PLEASE, Please, please... if you could create a stencil, layering, system that didn't require a PhD to figure out, I'd be the #1 customer... Palette tools would be nice too... I loved Dpaint... I swear some of the stuff they did has never been easier.

    I'm volunteering as Art Docent in my kids' school this year. And I'm all into painting, and crafts as a result... So I'll probably have lots of boring and pointless comments for you!! I bet you're just eager to hear all that!

    Anyhow, I'm totally psyched you're moving closer... despite the fact that you'll probably be far too comfortable with the political atmosophere here... (One of the few places on earth more whacko-liberal than Boulder... but the environmental stuff is totally understandable out here... I can't wait til you see Springtime out here... the flowers and colors are amazing! Meh... you will probably be unimpressed, growing up in Maine... still it's all good. ;)

    Ray does little dance... dance... dance... (I'm not the least bit excited...)

    So you still doing macrame' potholders?


  9. I greatly enjoy your writings and am glad to hear that you will continue them even as you take on this great, exciting opportunity. Congratulations! -John

  10. Oh no! This means you're going to be living right next to me now. :(

    So we'll have to talk to each other again and evil things like that.

    Awesome, though. I've considered moving to the big M in a year or two, myself. :) You can talk with my producer who just left us for there.

  11. It looks really cool, I can't wait to try it out. Unfortuanately, Microsoft's new hardline policy not to let anything install on Windows 2000 keeps me from trying it at home, but I'll check it out at work on monday. I had to mess with the the installer to get the AOE3 demo to install on my machine, I tried a similar trick with Acrylic but it didn't seem to install correctly. I guess I should just install Windows XP, but I don't really feel like it right now.

  12. I actually did get it to run in Windows 2000 using the same technique as AOE3, but it didn't correctly install the strokes or textures folders. I understand Microsoft's desire to phase out Windows 2000 and reduce tech support, but this policy of is a little ridiculous when the software runs without problems on an updated version of the OS.

  13. For the next two weeks, I luckily am on vacation and do not yet have to worry about Microsoft's OS policies. :-) I'll keep your troubles in mind though.

    This site will quite likely remain focused on games.

    take care

  14. Scott-
    I can assure you that the reason Acrylic doesn't run on Win2k is not some hardline Microsoft policy, it's much less glamorous than that. Basically, with limited test and dev resources we never even tried to get it on Win2k. There was never an effort to break it on 2000 but nothing was done to make it work either.

    If it's actually running, that's a real good sign. I'd suggest upgrading Windows Installer to the latest version and see if that helps.

  15. First of all, congrats on the new gig.

    Second, I'd just like to take a moment and do a little bitching on Acrylic ;)

    1. Where is the history list?

    2. When using multiple layers, using the brush on a layer that isn't the top layer, Acrylic renders white blocks around the brush stroke. Is this intentional? If it is, can it be turned off? If not can we get this added to a feature list? I can understand it being intentional as it would allow you to see the stroke against the background, but I want to see the stroke against the existing layers.

    3. How about a "Preview" checkbox as in Photoshop when using any of the modifiers for easy access to before-and-after without commiting the effect/modifier?

    4. Are they going to rework the icons? They're clumsy and unattractive at the moment.

    I guess that's it for now. I'm generally pleased with Acrylic, but there's still quite a bit of work to do in terms of usability and interface design. I look forward to the next beta.